New Lingerie Brand Turns Underwear Into an Important Social Movement

Meghan Blalock

We don’t think we’re reaching too far to say that, for most women, lingerie (and underwear in general) is a rather intimate subject, and is of the utmost importance when it comes to how our clothes end up fitting our bodies. We definitely take our underwear pretty seriously, but it’s also largely true that we’ve never particularly thought of it as a method for social change. Enter lingerie brand Empowered by You.

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Founder Renata Black spent years working in MicroFinance, the general term for a global system of funding small business entrepreneurs, usually in third-world countries, who don’t have access to banking and other standard forms of financial backing.  Renata’s focus was providing these services for women specifically.

“We helped women start their own business as an exit strategy out of poverty,” Renata, who helped more than 2,500 women escape poverty, tells StyleCaster. “Women have proven statistically to be the best investment. The first thing they do is they help their kids go to school and send them to doctors; it breaks the cycle of poverty for children.”

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“I wanted to continue doing this work but I didn’t want to do a traditional charity, so I had to come up with an innovative way to view microfinance consistently,” she explains of Empowered by You. “We knew the only way this is going to be sustainable is if you have a product.  Lingerie is the closest thing to your skin; it’s something that’s very intimate to all of us; you talk about your intimates you immediately feel it’s a personal subject. The empowerment of women is also a very personal subject.” She and her team set out to create the perfect seamless panty that would provide funding for women in poverty-stricken areas to start their own businesses.

How It Works: The idea is fairly simple, really: for each pair of underwear sold (prices range from $22 to $26), Empowered by You sends 20% of the profit straight to women in poverty to help them start their own small businesses.

“It’s this whole idea of, instead of giving a woman a fish, you teach her how to fish,” Renata explains. “Today’s woman knows that she has choices and that her choices matter. If she has two choices, she is going to exercise her choice to empower women everywhere, so she knows that what she’s wearing is beyond the fabric. We aimed to create a great product that is also a symbol of empowerment, to give a deeper meaning to intimates.”

A Special Partnership: Until now, Empowered by You’s line of panties has only been available in their e-commerce store and at select small boutiques nationwide; but they just ignited a collaboration with Scoop NYC on a limited-edition line that fives20% of net profits goes to the Seven Bar Foundationa specific microfinance organization that provides loans to women. “Scoop is showing that the empowerment of women and great product are both important to them,” Renata says. “This is a major indication of the market and where it’s going: it’s really about a conscious consumer and a conscious business.”

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